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Japan: Retail Giants Step Up Online Strategies to Increase Sales
Source: http://the-japan-news.com
Source Date: Sunday, December 22, 2013
Focus: E-Education
Country: Japan
Created: Dec 24, 2013

Major retail corporations are stepping up efforts to combine services in-store and online to rival such fast-growing online retailers as Rakuten and Amazon.

The move is aimed at utilizing the advantages of online shopping to attract a wide range of customers and using brick-and-mortar store retailing as a gateway to direct customer services, according to analysts.

One of those retailers is Aeon Co., which will start new services using smartphones at a new store that formally opened in the Makuhari Shintoshin area in Chiba on Dec. 20.

If a customer uses a smartphone to photograph any one of the 50 point-of-sale ads for items such as vegetables and seasoning at the store, the device displays a recommended recipe for a dish that could be prepared using the chosen item.

By offering these services, Aeon hopes to save customers the trouble of thinking up a daily menu while also encouraging them to buy more goods than they had considered before visiting the shop.

Combining in-store retailing and services using smartphones is becoming an important pillar of major retailers’ new sales promotion strategies.

Seven & i Holdings Co. announced on Dec. 2 that it will invest in major catalog retailer Nissen Holdings Co.

Customers will be able to pick up items bought through Nissen at about 16,000 Seven-Eleven stores across the nation.

Noritoshi Murata, the president of Seven & i Holdings Co., said, “When Nissen’s techniques of catalog retailing and the Internet are combined with the advantage of actual stores, it will create a new synergistic effect.”

J Front Retailing Co. also started a pick-up service for items bought through the website of an apparel company, and the retailer hopes it will encourage incidental shopping by customers who use the service.

Although retail giants have worked to develop their own online stores, they trail behind major online retailers Rakuten and Amazon who are able to offer products at lower prices because of reduced costs by not operating brick-and-mortar stores.

Kazunori Tsuda, a chief analyst of Daiwa Securities Co. said: “If retail giants gain know-how of selling online through corporate acquisitions and personnel exchange, the pleasure of shopping at an actual store will be added to the convenience of the Internet, which will lead to a synergistic effect.”

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